Sunday, 26 January 2020

Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk

The BBC journalists reporting on the 2017 Gaza Hoard did not make anything of this;
"Mr Alshdaifat told us [...] I do have two Alexander decadrachms that were bought from a dealer with invoices, and money wire proof the two coins have nothing to do with Gaza

Richard Beale, the director of Roma Numismatics told the BBC: "we were satisfied that the consignor(s) were known to us  and had an established record of professionalism and trust. Furthermore, we were provided with information that the items had entered the UK from an origin country that raised no concern". 
What actually do these nice phrases mean within the no-questions-asked antiquities market and what interpretations could we put on them looking from the outside in?

- "bought from a dealer with invoices" is not paperwork showing legal excavation and removal from a source country. That Messers Grabkesh and Runn or any other dealer ('reputation' or not) had it in their stock does not mean anything without the other paperwork.

- "money wire proof the two coins have nothing to do with Gaza" means nothing, it shows who he paid of the coins, not where they had been hoiked out of the ground. The coins could be from Iraq or Syria, and whom eventually Athena Numismatics paid to get them is immaterial.

- "we were satisfied that the consignor(s) were known to us" so? Some of these dealers are known to us too....

-  "established record of professionalism and trust". Professionalism and trustworthiness in what regard?

- "Furthermore, we were provided with information" so, we did not try to find out, we just went along with what we were told?

- "that the items had entered the UK", but that is not the question. Of course it is intended to translate  "no British law was broken" (actually not quite, because just look at the 2003 "Dealing in Cultural property (Offences) Act" provision 2) 

- "from" it's not where, but how that is the issue when  it comes to trafficking of cultural property. Is there an export licence?

- "an origin country that raised no concern". Where is that? (!) If the coins were imported from Greenland (no known Hellenistic sites there), it would still be a matter of concern if there was no paperwork showing they'd been taken to Greenland by somebody who had legal title and had acquired them legally.  The same goes for (say) Dubai.


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